Saturday, April 5, 2014

Crystal Brush 2014

Crystal Brush voting is now underway, so I can finally share my projects on the blog.  If you feel these entries are worth a thumbs-up, you can enter your own votes for the Crystal Brush competition here.  Votes from the Internet count for 50% of the score, alongside the 50% from the master judge.

First up is Mean Jellybean, a Dark Age figure, finally finding his home on that weird custom base that I showed as a WIP on the blog.

As disturbing a personality as Mean Jellybean seems to be, his pose and presence impressed me as something belonging to a heroic figure, albeit a dark and sinister one.  To my mind, the image looks like it belongs on a movie poster, so I wanted to show the piece with an explosive background and a grindhouse-style label, along with an appropriately sensational title.

Next is my first attempt to paint a Rackham figure.  Or effectively twelve of them, as it turns out!

The idea to paint a unit of multiple cavalry figures occured in only the last month leading up to Crystal Brush.  The folks on the Dragonpainting forum proposed for their monthly challenge to paint a Rackham figure in the old style of the Rackham studio models.  This idea excited me, because I would be able to kill multiple birds with one stone:
  1. I could finally paint my first Rackham figures.  I only very recently gained enough confidence in my painting skill to give justice to what I consider to be the finest gaming figures in the hobby.
  2. I could add a unit to my long-delayed Orc & Goblin army for Warhammer.
  3. I could gain more practice painting NMM.
  4. I could have a relatively novel entry for Crystal Brush.
The project was a bit overly ambitious, as it turns out.  I carefully managed all of my spare time over the course of the month to focus on painting this unit, as well as Mean Jellybean.  The effort had me painting and prepping until the very last evening, right before flying up to Chicago! 

This kind of stress is something I tried to prevent this year, but the intensity level turned out to be productive in an unexpected way.  Painting for competition is basically an excuse to force me to paint at high intensity.  Otherwise, I would pace out the painting at a leisurely pace, take shortcuts, and/or just lower my standard, especially for figures that I intend to game with (i.e. the Strohm Warriors).  But by painting almost every day, the exercise highlighted to me my limitations and weaknesses.  Namely, achieving better opacity; better definition; better contrast and light placement for NMM; and better skills building from dark to light.  These are areas I still need to improve -- I recognized these deficiencies as I painted these projects for Crystal Brush.  And I still see these deficiencies in the final result!

Halfway through the month, I concluded that I'm unsatisfied with my current skill level.  I'm still OK with the pace that I'm progressing, but I now have more specific goals of where I want my skill level to be.  I am coming out of this furious exercise more motivated to raise my standard.  So competition painting, something I've had little interest in, has surprisingly lit a little fire in my belly!


  1. They look great Shades! Very exciting to finally see them. Can't wait to get a chance to examine them in the flesh, so to speak!

  2. Thanks, Rafael! I look forward to shifting gears towards a little more gaming for a little while. That said, I'm also a little hungry to apply everything I've learned in the last month and work on painting projects as well, before I forget it all!

  3. Preemptive strike on the forthcoming post (I assume), but HUGE congratulations on the wins this weekend. Well deserved!

  4. Thanks so much for the support , Sean! Sure enough, I'll be posting lots of pics of the whole event when I return home. Icing on the cake was making it to the final table in the after-con poker tournament, second year in a row. Placed 5th and won a Dreadball game. Sweet!


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